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Jess Frampton

Five-alarm fire: Why Canada’s wildfire season could scorch last year's record

Remember last summer, when New York’s skyline glowed orange – looking apocalyptic – thanks to Canadian wildfires? Last year, between May and October, some 6,500 fires burned nearly 46 million acres of Canada’s land, the worst year on record. The blazes sent toxic smoke throughout much of the country and down into the United States as far south as Florida, at one point leaving New York City with the worst air quality in the world.

And now, this year’s wildfire season looks like it may scorch last year’s record.

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Paige Fusco

Graphic Truth: Canada braces for wildfire season

As the weather warms, the US and Canada are bracing for the potential of another record-breaking wildfire season. Canada’s 2023 wildfire season was the most destructive on record, with more than 6,000 fires tearing through tens of millions of acres and blanketing the US East Coast and Midwest in smoke.

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Paige Fusco

Graphic Truth: Home insurance costs are on the rise

From devastating hurricanes and ceaseless wildfires to catastrophic floods, natural disasters are increasing in frequency and cost in Canada and the US. As climate change makes disasters more frequent and destructive, insurers are having to raise rates and reduce coverage.

In the US, the home insurance industry has had three straight years of underwriting losses. Insurance rates rose an average of 21% in 2023 as a response, with some insurers in disaster-prone places like California and Florida ceasing to write new policies altogether. As a result, homeowners are forced to pay higher premiums for the fewer insurance options that remain.

In Canada, last summer’s record wildfires compounded with historic floods, costing more than $3.1 billion in insured damage and spiking rates in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia.

For this week’s Graphic Truth, we looked at how much insurance rates have risen around the US and Canada.

Jess Frampton

Are the US and Canada ready for wildfire season?

Last year marked the worst wildfire season ever recorded in Canada as 18.5 million hectares of land burned — shattering the previous record of 10 million hectares in 1989. Those fires accounted for 23% of global wildfire carbon emissions in 2023. They also sent toxic smoke throughout the country and into the US, putting the health and safety of Americans at risk.

At one point, New York City had the worst air quality in the world as Americans were exposed to more smoke per person than ever before. The smoke, which reached as far as Florida, also put US crops at risk.

This year might be as bad — or worse — which means that domestic and cross-border policies for fighting fires will be more important than ever.

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Women take part in a ritual event of naked festival, for the first time in its 1250 years of history, at Owari Okunitama Shrine, also known as Konomiya Shrine, in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan February 22, 2024.

REUTERS/Chris Gallagher

Hard Numbers: Japanese women go to naked party, Australian fires rage, French farmers fume, and Zambian creditors get paid.

1250:Washoi! Women crashed the party at Japan's 1250-year-old Naked Festival, a traditionally all-male event designed to drive out evil spirits. While they didn’t actually bare all, the first-ever female participants successfully trampled gender norms while ensuring that the festival continues as Japan’s population ages.

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FILE PHOTO: A volunteer stirring food to be distributed to people in Omdurman, Sudan, September 3, 2023.

REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Crisis deepens in Sudan, Infernos rage in Chile, Moon is shrinking, Japan welcomes digital nomads, NJ scores World Cup final, Swift's lucky numbers

8,000,000: The United Nations reported this week that 10 months of violent conflict in Sudan have displaced nearly 8 million people and caused at least 12,000 deaths. The war between the rebel Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Army has left nearly half of Sudan's population in need of aid and the International Criminal Court investigating allegations of war crimes.

112: At least 112 people are dead and 190 missing in wildfires consuming the central regions of Chile, including the historic port city of Valparaiso. Arson is suspected to have ignited the blaze that burned over 106,255 acres during the intense heatwave sweeping South America.

150: Over millions of years, the moon has shrunk by 150 feet in diameter – and now, scientists are growing concerned. The shrinking, caused by the cooling of the moon's molten core, has led to the formation of thrust faults and “moonquakes” that could pose risks to future lunar missions, notably at its south pole.

10,000,000: If you’ve got a yen to work in Japan, this is your lucky day. To boost tourism, the country will be offering a “specified activities” visa to digital nomads from 49 countries and territories, including the self-employed. This will allow them to work remotely and stay for up to six months as long as they earn an annual income of 10 million yen, or $68,300. The program is expected to start in late March.

39: FIFA World Cup released the schedule and locations of games for the 2026 tournament, which will be played in Mexico, the US, and Canada. At 39 days, it will be the longest World Cup in history, culminating with a final to be played in “New York/New Jersey” (which means MetLife stadium in … New Jersey). Among other curiosities, close observers noted that there’s a chance of a knockout round match between the US and England on July 4 in Philadelphia. Get your 1776 on …

4: Last night, Taylor Swift became the first artist to win four Grammy awards for album of the year with "Midnights." The pop star, who now has 14 statues on the mantle, thanked her fans by announcing that her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” will drop on April 19. And for those wondering where she will be on Feb. 11, the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, tweeted on Friday that the singing superstar can “comfortably” get from her concert in Tokyo on Saturday to Las Vegas on Sunday in time to see her “guy on the Chiefs” play in the Super Bowl.

10 images that captured 2023

With 2023 in our rearview mirror, here are some of the images that defined the tumultuous year: from Fulton County, Georgia to Gaza City,

Feb. 5: Spy Balloon Downed

Feb. 5: Spy Balloon Downed

Credit: Sipa USA via Reuters

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Feb. 5, 2023.

Feb. 10: Earthquake shakes Turkey and Syria

Feb. 10: Earthquake shakes Turkey and Syria

Credit: Umit Bektas/Reuters

An aerial view shows damaged and collapsed buildings in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Turkey February 10, 2023.


March 23: France protests pension changes

March 23: France protests pension changes

Credit: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Reuters

Riot policemen stands amid clouds of tear gas as more than 70,000 people protest in Toulouse against French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise the national retirement age and change pension benefits. March 23th 2023.

May 6: King Charles III coronated

May 6: King Charles III coronated

Credit: Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS

King Charles III waves as he leaves the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, following his coronation, May 6, 2023.

Jun. 7: Canadian wildfires

Jun. 7: Canadian wildfires

Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

People ride bicycles at 6th Avenue as haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada blanket New York City, New York, U.S., June 7, 2023.

Aug. 24: Trump mugshot

Aug. 24: Trump mugshot

Credit: Reuters

Former U.S. President Donald Trump in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, August 24, 2023.

Sept. 25: Milei’s chainsaw

Sept. 25: Milei\u2019s chainsaw

Credit: REUTERS/Cristina Sille

Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei holds a chainsaw next to Carolina Piparo, candidate for Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires, during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina September 25, 2023.

Oct. 7: Noa Argamani kidnapped

Oct. 7: Noa Argamani kidnapped

Nova music festival attendee Noa Argamani reaches out to her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, as they are kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, 2023.

Oct. 9: Gaza’s children bombed

Oct. 9: Gaza\u2019s children bombed

Credit: IMAGO/Medhat Hajjaj/apaimages via Reuters

A child at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City rests after surgery, having been wounded in an Israeli attack. October 9, 2023.

Oct 23: Afghanistan's historic Cricket World Cup win

Oct 23: Afghanistan's historic Cricket World Cup win

Credit: ANI via Reuters

Hashmatullah Shahidi celebrates Afghanistan's victory against Pakistan. Oct 23, 2023

What will 2024 bring? Make sure to subscribe to the GZERO Daily newsletter to keep up.

Insurance companies are feeling the heat of climate crisis
Insurance companies are feeling the heat of climate crisis | GZERO Media

Insurance companies are feeling the heat of climate crisis

To understand how bad the problem of climate change has become, it helps to follow the money.

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer breaks down the impact of climate change on property insurance premiums, which effectively quantifies the growing risk of catastrophic weather events. Last year alone, extreme weather damage cost the world a staggering $165 billion. Formerly once-in-a-generation weather events like the California wildfires of 2017 or Hurricane Harvey in 2018 are becoming more and more common, leading to devastating financial consequences for homeowners and hikes in insurance premiums.

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